More Homeschooled Students Are Designing Their Own Class Rings
Source: Newport News Daily Press
June 28, 2005
Newport News, VA -- Katelyn and Marissa Macri of Hampton, Va., go to school together, but their class rings look completely different.
That's because the sisters, who are homeschooled, designed their own rings. As homeschooling has become more widespread, families across the country have organized everything from proms to yearbooks as their children pass through high school. And one of the fastest growing trends has been for homeschooled teens, particularly girls, to order customized class rings designed to reflect their hobbies, their passions and often their religious faith.
"I really don't care about trying to recreate `the rites of passage' that other kids have in high school," said Katelyn Macri, who just finished her senior year. "We just thought it would be nice to have our own class rings."
Marissa Macri, who just finished her junior year, added: "A friend of ours had one, and I thought it would be neat to have one, too. It's just something that will have a lot of memories, something to keep and have later on in life."
The sisters both play soccer for the Beach Breakers, a team composed of homeschooled students from the area. Katelyn chose a fire-blue gemstone for her ring because it was similar to the team's colors; she has done a lot of acting work, so she chose emblems representing soccer and drama for the sides of her ring.
Marissa chose her birthstone, a ruby. On one side of her ring is the image of a soccer player, and on the other is the image of ocean waves, representing the team's nickname. Both rings have the word "homeschool" circling the stones.
Jewelry departments at stores such as Wal-Mart and Target have begun actively marketing to the homeschooler community, with catalogues displaying different styles, stones and emblems. Jostens, which is among the top designers of class rings, now has a link on the front page of its Web site advertising products for homeschoolers.
With prices ranging from just under $100 to more than $400, the individualized class rings have become a cottage industry directed at the homeschooler community.
"It was really a combination of us taking a look at a new opportunity, but also us being asked for this by parents," said Rich Stoebe, Jostens' director of communications. "A lot of people don't realize that graduating from home school is still, to the graduate, a significant event. And those families often want to mark that event in the traditional ways."
Sarah Skinner of Gloucester, Va., admits that she's "not a real big jewelry person." But she knew that her mother had sold her class ring and her father had lost his, so it was important to her to have one of her own. She designed it and ordered it her freshman year so that she could wear it throughout high school.
Skinner, who just finished her junior year, immediately settled on an aquamarine stone, her birthstone. But she says it took her almost a month to choose the designs for the sides of the ring. She finally settled on musical notes for one side, and symbols of Christianity - a Bible, a cross, a candle and a dove - on the other.
"I narrowed my list down to five things I could put on the sides of my ring, things like martial arts and swimming," Skinner said. "But in the end I felt like music and my faith would be the two things that I truly believe will always be a part of my life, so those designs will still have meaning for me whenever I look at my ring."
When she ordered her ring from Jostens, Skinner found an added bonus. Her family has always called their home school Goshen Christian Academy, named for the biblical place she describes as "the land of plenty and of fulfillment, a Heaven on Earth." When she learned that Jostens designed class rings for Goshen High School in Indiana, it made it easy for her to have the word Goshen surrounding the gemstone.
"I like that I have a class ring that's unique to me and very personal to me," Skinner said. "I never wanted to go to a regular high school. You couldn't pay me enough money to go to a regular high school. But my friends who went there had rings, and I wanted to have one, too, sort of as a way to remind them, `Hey, I actually do go to school, I don't just sit around.'"
Morgan Levy, a homeschooled student from Newport News, Va., graduated high school at age 15. She's 18 now and starting her senior year at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. She still wears the class ring she designed when she was in 12th grade.
Levy ordered her ring through a small silver shop in Vermont while the family was vacationing in that area. The shop offered to put a design beneath her blue gemstone, which made her happy because "it was like it gave me three sides to my ring." She put three crosses beneath the stone, and she put a guitar and a swimmer on the sides of the ring.
"I saw the ring as just one more way to show that home school students can have these things, too," Levy said. "I went to a prom. I graduated with 12 of my friends in the area. And a lot of us had class rings. It means a lot to me, because my ring is even more personalized than a regular class ring would be. It really reflects my education and my personality - it says something about who I am."